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  1. #1
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    missing army payroll, 1870's

    The following story is very intriguing, and i was wondering if anyone has any more information on it. or if it is even true.

    Sometime in the late 1870s, two army officers en route to deliver a payroll of $60,000 in gold coins made camp at a spring near the headwaters of the San Rafael River. Aware that they had been trailed by Indians that entire day, they anticipated an attack at dawn the following day. Deciding to make a run for their lives, they buried the heavy bags of money near the spring, mounted their horses, and rode out. They were immediately attacked by the waiting Indians, but the soldiers managed to fight them off and made their escape.

    Deciding to have the money for himself, one of the officers killed the other and rode back to their headquarters where he reported that his companion had been killed by Indians and that they had stolen the payroll. The story was not believed and the officer was courtmartialed and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    After serving his term, the ex-soldier returned to the area of the spring and made a long, but fruitless, search for the buried gold. The spring had dried up over the years and other landmarks had changed or disappeared.




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  3. #2

    Feb 2008
    2,329
    161 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    WTH:

    What fort in Utah were the officers attempting to reach?

  4. #3
    us
    Having the time of my life!

    Sep 2008
    Cincinnati
    531
    14 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    This seems plausible, do you have any more information or a source that would help determine the proximity of the area he searched?

    Yea, though I walk through the Valley of Death I will fear no evil for thou art with me.

  5. #4
    us
    Jan 2006
    Anchorage AK
    Exterra 70, Etrac, AT Pro
    388

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    $60,000 would have been a ridiculously large payroll, gold at $16 dollars an ounce that would be 312.5 troy pounds of gold. That would probably be enough for a company sized fort for a decade. Sums that large would have way more than two people transporting it. So story just doesn't add up in my opinion

  6. #5
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    it does sound a little far fetched, but details do change over time. There might have been less money then the story says. if a payroll didnt come through, where would the record of that be kept? Would someone have made some note of it, especially since it would have been such a significant payroll?

  7. #6
    us
    Apr 2007
    CA-AZ-NV-NM
    Garrett GTI 2500
    538
    11 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by westerntreasurehunter
    The following story is very intriguing, and i was wondering if anyone has any more information on it. or if it is even true.

    Sometime in the late 1870s, two army officers en route to deliver a payroll of $60,000 in gold coins made camp at a spring near the headwaters of the San Rafael River.

    I've done quite a bit of research about US Army payrolls (1860-1920) and their procedures. Many of the Army payroll robbery "treasure" stories I've read do not conform to US Army Paymaster procedures. (Also, many of the payroll amounts appear to be out-of-proportion to actual Army payroll figures, not to mention the excessive payroll weight per man for some of these stories.)

    Rather than believe me, you can google US Army Paymaster for yourself- some of the payroll procedure manuals (late 1800s to early 1900s) are available for download so you can read them for yourself.

    US Army procedures called for a Paymaster to accompany the money. There are other requirements for additional troops depending upon the amount being delivered.

    Below is an example of a typical (1800s) Wells Fargo payroll/money strongbox. It is not nearly as large as the photo makes it appear. I'm pretty sure it would not hold $60K in gold/silver... maybe paper dollars!

    I'm not saying your story isn't true, I'm just saying it doesn't seem to conform to established US Army procedures for 1860-1920.


    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #7
    us
    Apr 2007
    CA-AZ-NV-NM
    Garrett GTI 2500
    538
    11 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by westerntreasurehunter
    ...if a payroll didnt come through, where would the record of that be kept?
    Now you are on the right track! According to Army regulations, if a payroll robbery did occur, troops were sent out to investigate the situation. Aside from a civilian newspaper article (or two) about the robbery, I have not been able to obtain a copy of a US Army payroll robbery investigation report (for the time period of 1860-1910).

    I have copies of many US Army written reports (1860s-1920s). They loved to write reports/logs... about almost anything and everything. Can't locate one single payroll robbery investigation report. I wish you luck in your search!

  9. #8
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    thanks Bob! Alright i have a few questions for you: first, the soldiers in this story were not following the correct procedures for transfering a payroll. Is this kind of thing a rarity? what i mean is, were the regulations followed correctly most of the time? And also, where did aquire those army reports?
    Thanks, wth

  10. #9
    us
    Apr 2007
    CA-AZ-NV-NM
    Garrett GTI 2500
    538
    11 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by westerntreasurehunter
    thanks Bob! Alright i have a few questions for you: first, the soldiers in this story were not following the correct procedures for transfering a payroll. Is this kind of thing a rarity? what i mean is, were the regulations followed correctly most of the time? And also, where did aquire those army reports? Thanks, wth
    Well, I don't think you could make an accurate determination about whether "some troops" performed correctly "in the field" based upon an undocumented/unverified "story" or legend. A "rare" deviation from procedures could only be determined after examining verified facts.

    I'm not being totally dismissive of your particular story, though. Why? Because the US Army has even stricter (and more thorough) regulations and procedures now-a-days. If you follow the news today, many troops in Iraq/Afghanistan have been caught stealing millions of dollars from the US Army. So, if it is happening now, I'm sure some "monkey business" occurred during the 1800s as well.

    As far as getting your hands on US Army reports (1800s), they are in a number of places: old Army forts, historical societies, state repositories, etc.

    Hope this helps!

  11. #10

    Feb 2008
    2,329
    161 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    I still don't know what fort they came from and the one they were going to.
    Do some research on this will you.

  12. #11
    us
    Jul 2009
    Waltham, MA
    White's Vision
    85

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by Franklin
    I figure about 188 pounds I don't see how you could come up with 3,540.8 pounds?
    You're right! I don't even know how I did that! LOL thanks!!
    "Never argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience!"

  13. #12
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Alright. I've been researching possible forts they could have been traveling to, or traveling from. Most of the forts in Utah seem to have been abandoned by the late 1860's. There large majority of forts in Utah are mormon settlements, or temporary military camps. I could find only a few more permanent U.S. Army forts for the late 1870's. I'm not an expert on Army forts or procedures, did the army ever occupy Mormon Forts? If so then is it possible the fort they were coming from could have been listed as a mormon fort, instead of an Army fort?

  14. #13
    us
    Nov 2008
    Utah
    TITAN 3000 XD ,DFX, Minelab X-Terra 705 L Rods
    232
    8 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Forts in Utah was bulit first by the mountain men and fur traders during 1800 then when the mormoncame into utah they built there fort such as ft harmony and fort santa clara and ft pearce but it was only 30' square and other over 550' square and in the 1850 & 60s almost every settlement had a fort or stockade. and the only Army payroll that was stolen that i know of was that from the camp of general Albett S Johnston the camp was in Cedar Vally the camp had 2500 troops of which it payroll was stolen.

  15. #14
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Thats good information, where did you read that? I was researching Albert Sydney Johnston but i couldnt find the part about the stolen payroll.

  16. #15
    us
    Nov 2008
    Utah
    TITAN 3000 XD ,DFX, Minelab X-Terra 705 L Rods
    232
    8 times

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by westerntreasurehunter
    Thats good information, where did you read that? I was researching Albert Sydney Johnston but i couldnt find the part about the stolen payroll.
    sorry its taken so long to get back I belive that its in a book called some dreams die? I have it but will have to dig it out hope that help you out
    walt

  17. #16
    us
    Nov 2007
    Nebraska
    White Eagle Spectrum
    226

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    The story was not believed and the officer was courtmartialed and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    After serving his term, the ex-soldier returned to the area of the spring and made a long, but fruitless, search for the buried gold. The spring had dried up over the years and other landmarks had changed or disappeared.
    It's this last part that makes me suspicious of the credibility of the story. Not just the amount of gold, but what happened to the officer. Suspicion of murder and theft by deception in a military court martial during that time period? Seems to me that would warrant firing squad level penalty rather than just prison time. But then, I'm no expert on military law or history
    The first thing you need to remember about running away is, it's the "from" that's important.  The "to" can take care of itself.

  18. #17
    us
    Nov 2007
    Nebraska
    White Eagle Spectrum
    226

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Quote Originally Posted by westerntreasurehunter
    Alright. I've been researching possible forts they could have been traveling to, or traveling from. Most of the forts in Utah seem to have been abandoned by the late 1860's. There large majority of forts in Utah are mormon settlements, or temporary military camps. I could find only a few more permanent U.S. Army forts for the late 1870's. I'm not an expert on Army forts or procedures, did the army ever occupy Mormon Forts? If so then is it possible the fort they were coming from could have been listed as a mormon fort, instead of an Army fort?
    On a side note, getting fort reports and such is necessary of course, but with the story you have, if you have names of the soldiers, you can find out a great deal by researching those names. For instance, if the story is true, the military reports will tell you where they were at that time period, as well as what fort the one was arrested at. Chances are, you could draw a straight line between the two, google earth it and look for areas that fit the general criteria of the description given for the area.
    The first thing you need to remember about running away is, it's the "from" that's important.  The "to" can take care of itself.

  19. #18
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Its been a while since i posted this story, and ive learned a lot. When you read a story like this, at once you picture yourself handling thousands of double eagles and you make it a priority. But a lot of times, these stroies were just a means of selling papers or books. Since posting this ive readjusted my sights, so to speak, to a more practical level. Im still sure i will find something like this someday, but only after years of research and experiance. I'm still a believer; not neccessarily in this story, but in the possibility of a great discovery. But discovery usually comes to prepared minds. Thanks to all who have commented. You guys have been supportive and given advice even when im sure many of you knew it wasnt likely to be true. It was a real boost for a beggining treasure hunter, and i hope we all can return the favor to others

  20. #19
    us
    Jan 2011
    Utah desert
    Bounty Hunter/Colt 44/Fisher Gemini lll/Minolta 400 SLR
    17
    Cache Hunting

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    I grew up in the little town of Orangeville, near this area just a couple of miles. The head waters consist of 3 Creeks that become the San Rafael River. The two soldiers camped on the north side of Cottonwood creek, east of where the Huntington creek joins in. The gold was in a strong box. They buried it about 10' from the junction of the joined creeks. They buried the box every night. Yes the one officer decided he could keep the whole $60,000 by killing the other guy. But his story that Indians attacked, shot the other guy and took the gold didn't work, because out here, the Indians don't take gold. They have no use for it. They would just toss into a lake or river if it was deep enough, or bury it. So the Officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison. When he got out he came to Orangeville for food and equipment and spent 3 months digging holes.
    Now living on the Cottonwood creek you have to realize that every spring, that creek becomes a raging river, and the course of the river changes down stream. In 1966 a dam was put in (Joe's Valley Reservoir) upstream and that helped contain the creek, so it wasn't so wild.
    I wouldn't be surprised if that strong box wasn't just washed out of where it was buried, tumbled downstream until it was dashed to pieces scattering the gold downstream several miles. The ground in the area is clay like and you could safely estimate that the coins would settle about 1 inch a year. About 10 to 14 feet deep. Mother nature does stuff like that, she's probably pissed off about shooting an innocent man. The worn out ex-soldier came into town and talked about what he was trying to find, and he was done looking, but anyone else was free to go look if they wanted to. He was never seen again in the area.

  21. #20
    us
    Jul 2010
    Teknetics Omega 8000
    67

    Re: missing army payroll, 1870's

    Thats a really interesting part of the story i never knew, thanks for that. I dont think i would be getting down there any time soon, but if i were you I would try and look for it. The price of gold being how it is, it would be well worth your time to find several double eagles. Just wondering, Do you know what prison the man stayed at, or his name? I would like to research it a little more now

 

 
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